Word Up Pair literate kids with published authors and you get Word From the (415), this year's anthology from the San Francisco-based WritersCorps program, part of Bill Clinton's Peace Corps-style domestic service program AmeriCorps. Local and national writers taught poetry, fiction, theater, and other language arts to at-risk youth in schools and agencies all over town; the anthology includes second-year work by 200 writers ages 7 to 23. San Francisco kids give vibrant voice to their encounters with violence, money, family, sex, school, and cultural clashes in this wide-ranging collection, celebrated with readings and a publication party at 5:30 p.m. in the New Main Library's Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-2546.
Food for Thought A good meal can be tastier still when it's consumed for a good cause, without the hot-stove slavery and dishwashing parts. "Dining Out for Life" enlists the participation of dozens of local restaurants for a citywide eat-a-thon to benefit Visual Aid, a nonprofit that provides programs and services for artists living with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. Diners may also register to win a pair of round-trip airline tickets to London. "Dining Out for Life" is held today only, based on restaurant hours. To receive a fax of participating restaurants, call (800) 903-5242; for more information, call 777-8242.
Dances With Cows Dr. Seuss shakes hands with dadaists in Mobius Music's surreal theatrical journey Exit Vacaville. The Mobius Operandi ensemble performs live on Oliver DiCicco's original instruments as audience members walk through this mix of drama and dance, a meditation on "offramps on the road not taken." The narrative traces the life of Penelope, a waitress trapped in Vacaville, from the present back to her childhood, lingering on the divisions between her dreams and her slightly less pleasant real life (including her stint as a "cow-whacker"). Exit Vacaville opens at 9 p.m. (and continues through June 29) at the SOMAR Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $12; call 285-7836.
Stoked for Folk What began as a concert series in 1963 turned into a one-day event at Golden Gate Park's Hall of Flowers in 1976 and ultimately evolved, in the spirit of the '90s, as an inclusive, weekend-long cultural event. Musicians from around the world and around town will gather at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival to perform new acoustic, blues, folk, international, and traditional music and dance in continuous sets. Workshops like "Shape Note Singing" and activities organized around storytelling, craft-making, and dancing let adults and kids experiment with the form. This is a noncommercial festival, although there will be food available and musicians will be selling recordings and other related merchandise. The fest begins at 7:30 p.m. (continuing Friday and Saturday at noon) at Roosevelt Middle School, 460 Arguello, S.F. Admission is free; call (408) 370-7549.
Indigo Gals Denise Perrier, Ledisi, and Lavay Smith pool their talent for solo and group performances in the musical evening "Ladies Sing the Blues." Pickup quintet the Fat Note Band provides a backbeat as the singers, hot local properties all, belt out blues and classic jazz running the gamut from Ella Fitzgerald to Aretha Franklin. Perrier, an alto, has played Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith onstage, and is inclined to their repertoire in clubs; Beach Blanket Babylon cast member Ledisi founded R&B/acid jazz group Anibade, while Smith helped spark the swing revival with her band the Red Hot Skillet Lickers. The show is designed to evoke the bittersweet glamour of the good old days, when wearing impractical, elegant clothing, eating calorie-packed snacks, and smoking and drinking immoderately were just fine. "Ladies Sing the Blues" plays at 9 p.m. at Julie Ring's Heart and Soul, 1695 Polk, S.F. Admission is $8; call 673-7100.
Artist Among Us The Women's Philharmonic, the men's choral ensemble Chanticleer, and the Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company build on the visions of composer and artist-in-residence Chen Yi in "Myths and Poems of China: The Music of Chen Yi." The concert, a first-time collaboration among the three groups, presents the world premiere of Yi's Chinese Myths Cantata, which is performed as three sections: "Pan Gu Creates Heaven and Earth," "NY Wa Creates Human Beings," and "Weaving Maid and Cowherd"; the program also includes A Set of Chinese Folk Songs, Tang Poems, Antiphony (Ge Xu), and Symphony No. 2. The concert is held at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m, Sunday at 7 p.m.) at Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, S.F. Admission is $19-26; call 392-4400.
Hit the Beach Protect Fluffy from bad juju at the Blessing of the Animals, an entertainment highlight at the North Beach Festival, a convergence of the beatnik, house pet, and tourist communities. In honor of the Beat movement that once flourished in the city's Italianate pocket, the festival offers publisher and bookseller stalls along with a spoken-word stage, "Sounding the Beat," at which poets will read to jazz accompaniment. Festival standards -- food booths, arts and crafts, live music stages -- are open alongside arte di gesso, or traditional Italian street painting, and the prize-drawing booth Lotteria North Beach. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also on Sunday) on the 1200-1500 blocks of Grant, the 500 block of Green, and in Washington Square Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 403-0666.
Cuckoo for Comix Discover what thousands of rock 'n' rollers have already embraced at "Temporary Insanity II," a group exhibit of underground comic and poster art by majors like Frank Kozik, Mats!?, Coop, and Psychic Sparkplug. The San Francisco and New York Museums of Modern Art have begun to acknowledge the form, characterized by garish graphics and often confrontational subject matter. "Temporary Insanity II," complete with artist appearances, begins at noon (also on Sunday) at Off the Wall, 1669 Haight, S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8170.
From Disaster, a Dance-a-Thon World-beat DJs across the city will get together for the "World Music Dance-a-Thon," a benefit for the JoJo White Youth Fund. White, a 23-year-old San Francisco native and activist, was recently killed in an act of random street violence; in his memory, his parents established a scholarship fund through Global Exchange for "Reality Tours," to help send local youth on work-study trips to other countries, like the one White had gone on to Cuba. Cheb i Sabbah, Corey Mason, Mongrel, Doug Wendt, and Bob-a-Loup are among the DJs who will spin at the event, held from 4 p.m. until midnight in the County Fair Building, Lincoln & Ninth Ave., S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 255-7296 for information or pledge forms.
Butter Up It's whiplash time for stargazers when the members of Cibo Matto and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins get together in the new group Butter tonight. Opening is Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark for a celebrity band alum show at the Bottom of the Hill. The show comes right after the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in Golden Gate Park -- an all-star extravaganza featuring performances by the Beasties, Cibo Matto, the Foo Fighters, Pavement, the Smashing Pumpkins, and many others -- and may or may not turn out to be the after-show party for it. Summer Camp opens at 10 p.m. at 1233 17th St., S.F. Admission is $7; call 621-4455.
!Feliz Cumpleanos! La Pena Cultural Center marks 21 years of art and activism with a community birthday party. Since 1975, La Pena ("gathering place") has sponsored multicultural performances and events that raise money to fight social injustice. However, like that other venerable local arts organization, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the center is a victim of government funding cuts and could go under if new fund-raising efforts prove unsuccessful. In keeping with its mission of community involvement, the center commissioned several young local artists to paint a mural, which will be unveiled at the party. SFSU Professor Jose Cuellar (aka Dr. Loco) and his Rockin' Jalapeno Band provide musical entertainment. The mural unveiling and a reception for the artists is at 5 p.m.; the evening celebration begins at 9:30 p.m. at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $10; call (510) 849-2568, ext. 15.
Portrait of a Festival The Irish Arts Foundation and Anna Livia Books collaborate on the local arm of the annual international celebration of James Joyce's magnum opus, Ulysses. The "Bloomsday Breakfast" (named for a day in the life of Ulysses character Leopold Bloom) sets the tone with Irish fare, strolling actors and musicians, and celebrants in period attire. After the breakfast, held at the Bank of Ireland (10 Mark, S.F.), the party moves out onto the streets for a mock funeral procession and onto a trolley car headed for Noe Valley and Carrolls Bookshop, 24th & Church, where the Anna Livia Players will conduct dramatic readings of Joycean works and Fionnuala Flanagan's James Joyce's Women will screen. Admission is $15 for the breakfast, $10 donation for the party; call 788-7152.
June Buggy From the gospel concert to the computer fair, the rodeo horse show to the history project, the Juneteenth Festival: An African-American Celebration adheres to the kitchen-sink school of event programming. Dancing and music will take place on two live performance stages, and there will be lots of food-eating and kid-entertaining opportunities. The festival is held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fillmore between Geary and Golden Gate, S.F. Admission is free; call 346-2263.
Electric Ianland As far as Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant are concerned, the rabbit has died. In other words, don't ask them about their old band, Echo & the Bunnymen, which caught fire in the early '80s with haunting post-punk dirges like "The Cutter." Singer McCulloch got so sick of the Bunnymen he eventually quit the band and stopped speaking to longtime Liverpudlian mate Sergeant, who kept the group together long after he probably should have. After five years and a couple of pints, the two made up and formed a new band, Electrafixion, with a new sound: moody, heavy, psychedelia-tinged, and harder than before. The Elevator Drops open for Electrafixion at 8 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Admission is $12; call 474-0365.
Indelible Marks The Center for the Arts Galleries offer three collections of the kind of work that doesn't get much play in the conventional art world. "Pierced Hearts and True Love: A Century of Drawings for Tattoos," co-curated by the Drawing Center's Ann Philbin and local tattoo artist and historian Don Ed Hardy, makes its West Coast debut. Drawings, engraved acetate stencils, Japanese woodblock prints, photos, and vintage equipment contribute to this thorough history of modern tattooing. Sculptors David Ireland and Dorothy Cross join distinct but complementary styles in "The Addition and Subtraction of Skin," while "The Studio Museum in Harlem: 25 Years of African-American Art" provides an overview of black Americans' contributions to contemporary art. In addition to this collection of art and artifacts, the galleries will show films in the program "Screening the Harlem Renaissance: Early Black Cinema." The collections and films show through Aug. 18 at the Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is Free-$4; call 978-2787.
Shirts Off for Freedom! The X-plicit Players wrap up their third court date this year with a topless outdoor protest of Berkeley's Anti-Nudity Ordinance, which allows men but not women to go shirtless in public. Previous protests against this obvious and widespread legal double standard have gotten the participants arrested. Look for defiant breast barings and shows of solidarity at the protest, held at noon at MLK Jr. Park, Center & MLK Jr., Berkeley. Free; call (510) 540-0907.
Gringostroika Warrior Avant-garde theater avatar Peter Sellars has called him one of the great performance artists in America today, but Guillermo Gomez-Pena is less interested in standing out than he is in coming together. His theatrical monologues, a linguistic stew of Spanglish, Inglenol, Nahuatl, English, and Spanish, break down cultural fences and offer tongue-in-cheek observations on the politics of race, gender, language, and identity. He was awarded a 1991 MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship for his work, into which he integrates video, radio, poetry, and installation art. Gómez-Pena teaches a writing workshop at 7 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. Cost is $25; call 626-2787.